2014 Ernest Scott Prize winner announced
The Faculty of Arts, in conjunction with The Australian Historical Association, is excited to announce the winner of the 2014 Ernest Scott Prize is Angela Wanhalla, for Matters of the Heart. A History of Interracial marriage in New Zealand, Auckland University Press, Auckland, NZ 2013.
Angela Wanhalla's ground breaking history of interracial relationships in New Zealand across two hundred years utilises not only the usual range of church and state records but also personal papers, family and local histories to track the lives of couples whose relationship was sustained over a period of time. While Maori women left little trace for the historian, Wanhalla uses analysis of images, particularly photography, to overcome some of the gaps and silences in the record. She takes a broad view of coupling which incorporates common law relationships, Maori ceremonies and Christian marriages sanctioned by the State and also takes account of various debates and legislative action in relation to marriage over time.
Wanhalla draws on the recent work by anthropologists and historians such as Ann Laura Stoler to explore the history of emotion and sentiment as central to these encounters. She historicises the specific context in which these are expressed and how they changed over time in relation to the society and demographics. She notes that interracial relationships in New Zealand have often been used as evidence of 'gentle colonialism' but while her study of intimacy makes an important contribution to overturning simplistic paradigms of race relations on the frontier and beyond, Wanhalla still emphasises the framework of gendered and racial power struggles within which these relationships operated.
This book is beautifully written, clearly structured and Wanhalla wears her extensive scholarship lightly so the reader has the pleasure of reading fascinating personal stories combined with sharp analysis.
The 2014 Ernest Scott prize is worth approximately $13,000 and was judged by Professor Paula Hamilton from the University of Technology, Sydney, and Professor Tom Brooking from the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.